Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Van Der Graaf Generator - Still Life CD (album) cover


Van Der Graaf Generator


Eclectic Prog

4.29 | 1462 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Prog Reviewer
4 stars Van der Graaf Generator - Still Life (1976)

Silence after the Storm

VdGG became one of my favorite bands in recent years. Their confronting sound and their no- consensus approach to progressive music is truly a blessing. Still Life is considered their best record by some because of its professional sound and good recording. It is also considered the last of their prime period.

I myself do not agree with the majority in this matter. Though I can understand people like the professional atmosphere of this record, but I miss the naive and psychedelic approach. Another letdown are some of the lyrics, those who also listen to Peter Hammill's solo career know that his divorce had become his main lyrical theme. I found a vinyl copy of Hammill's 'Over' which was totally ruined by this theme. On Still Life both the title song and La Rossa are about his ex-wife. I would rather have seen some fantasy story or some philosophical approaches like on the great opener Pilgrims.

Talking about the song Pilgrims, this is one of my favorite VdGG songs because of it's great vocals, musical development and lyrical message. The refrain theme is catchy and powerful, it gives me the feeling life is real and serious. Wonderful! The second track, the title track, has a great opening theme, but the couplets are a bit simple and the aggressive vocals are a bit out of place. La Rossa has a stronger composition, with more melodic development. To bad this track hasn't the strong vocals as some of the other tracks on the album and the ending section is bombastic but a bit chaotic.

On side two we begin with the excellent My Room, which could be considered to be one of the most gentle and intimate tracks VdGG ever record. This track shows the true power of the wind-section of VdGG, played by Peter Jackson. Some jazz influence were adapted for the melodic sax lines of Jackson. The changing between major keys and minor keys keep the song interesting throughout and give the vocals a boost. Childlike Faith in Childhood's End is the longest epic of the album with a lot of melodic themes and lyrics. Though most parts are interesting I do sometimes loose my attention. Luckily the "Even if there's a heaven if we die' - part has a great philosophical stream of thoughts and do I finish the album with a good feel.

Conclusion. Not my favorite VdGG, I would prefer Godbluff, Pawn Hearts, H to He and maybe even The Least we can Do over Still Life. It somehow sounds like a silence after the storm (as the Dutch say), other records of VdGG are less quiet. I will still give this record a small four stars and I must say I should listen to it more often, if only Pawn Hearts and Godbluff weren't so perfect... All fans of VdGG should own this and people interested in confronting music and eclectic prog also shouldn't skip on this one. Actually a 3.5 stars for me.

friso | 4/5 |


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password


Social review comments () BETA

Review related links

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives